Case study

PGDE student — Kir Turner

After graduating with a degree in childhood and youth studies, Kir decided to complete a PGDE in Post-14 Education and Training at Edge Hill University. They tell us about their experience, what they love about the course, and their plans for the future

What inspired you to complete a PGDE?

I first came to Edge Hill with the goal to complete teacher training. I faced a few unexpected barriers, and so I decided I'd undertake a PGDE after finishing my undergraduate degree.

Having already studied at the university for a few years, it seemed a logical choice to stay, especially given the reputation it has for teacher training.

How did you find the application process?

It was relatively straightforward. Like with the undergraduate degree, I applied online via UCAS, and wrote a new personal statement to reflect my ambition to be a teacher.

I was quickly invited for an interview, which included a requirement to create and deliver a presentation about how I'd deliver a lesson within my chosen subject. Coming from a family of maths teachers, I really wanted to teach maths, so this was my subject of focus.

Very soon after the interview, I was offered a place on the course.

How are you funding your PGDE?

I've been able to fund my PGDE with a loan from Student Finance. PGDE/PGCE funding is slightly different to a typical Masters, as you can access the same funding as you can at undergraduate level.

I applied for both tuition fee and maintenance loans, and I really like that this doesn't impact my eligibility to apply for a full Masters loan in the future if I choose to.

Tell us a bit about the course and what it involves.

The PGDE is a one-year degree and it carries 120 credits at Level 7. The credits are split into four modules, which run consecutively over the year. This means I don't have to worry about managing multiple deadlines at the same time - something that happened a few times during my undergraduate degree.

My first module gave me the opportunity to practice my teaching skills and receive some valuable feedback from professionals and peers, before I began my professional practice placements. I've completed one professional practice placement on my PGDE, and this has been running throughout the year three days a week. The other two days are spent in class at university.

My modules have included the opportunity to design a short course curriculum and propose a research project with an in-depth literature review. My final module involves creating a portfolio demonstrating what I've done out on placement, and critically reflecting on those experiences and opportunities. I particularly enjoyed the curriculum design module, as I was really able to get creative with the assessments for the learners.

How different is postgraduate study compared to that of an undergraduate?

One of the biggest differences is the workload and expectations for independent learning. At times, it may feel as if the taught elements aren't directly relevant to the assignment for that particular module, but every lecture is a valuable learning experience. I've learned far more throughout the year than I'm able to demonstrate purely through written assignments.

There's a substantial amount of independent study expected with an undergraduate degree, but the jump from Level 6 to 7 is significant and overwhelming at times.

I've found the study skills sessions on offer at Edge Hill to be a huge help, and I've had personal tutor meetings for support whenever needed. The tutors on my PGDE are amazing and really helpful if you ask. Each of my tutors have supported me in different areas, using their own expertise and I'm so grateful for their help.

How have you found your professional practice placement so far?

There were some real positives to how my placement was organised, as it allowed me to settle into the school and build up my confidence until I was ready to teach a class on my own.

My tutors have kept in regular contact with me while I've been out on placement, which means I always have support and advice available to me whenever it's needed. On the other hand, because I've only completed one placement, I've been a little limited in the school experiences I've had. There's an opportunity for me to visit my peers' placement schools towards the end of the year to see what different settings are like. There's also the option to spend a week or two in placements very different to our own - for example, within a pupil referral unit, which would be very different to a mainstream college.

I've completed my placement within an alternative provision, for young people who for various reasons weren't able to complete their education in mainstream schools. It's been a great experience, and as well as teaching maths, I've had the opportunity to teach a drumming lesson and take part in the teaching of other classes, such as health and social care and citizenship.

What are your plans for when you graduate?

My plan is to start my PhD. Over the years I've been at Edge Hill, I've really found a passion for research, and I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to get involved in a research project I've designed myself. Alongside this, thanks to my PGDE, I've also managed to secure part-time work as a study skills tutor for autistic higher education students. I'll be providing one-to-one support in areas such as academic writing, proofreading, and research. Once I finish my PhD, I hope to secure a teaching role in further or higher education.

Do you have any tips or advice for someone thinking of taking a PGCE/PGDE?

Make sure you've considered your own learning needs, and really think about your end goal. I knew I didn't want to work in a mainstream high school, but rather in alternative provision such as a pupil referral unit, and so the PGDE was more suited to me than a PGCE in secondary education.

The way the teaching and placements are balanced also really appealed to me, and the opportunities for placement options given my career goals.

Get a diary and ensure you know how best to manage your time. This is more than just a degree - you're also teaching and have all the lesson planning and preparation that goes with that. It may not seem like much when you first start, but it quickly builds up - start early and plan.

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